Lee Chez Kee v Public Prosecutor

JurisdictionSingapore
CourtCourt of Three Judges (Singapore)
JudgeChoo Han Teck J
Judgment Date12 May 2008
Neutral Citation[2008] SGCA 20
Citation[2008] SGCA 20
Subject MatterWhen does interpretation give effect to legislative intent,Statements,Manner in which common intention may be proved,Whether doctrine of stare decisis applying,Common intention,Confessions,Whether additional mens rea requirement of secondary offenders is that of subjective knowledge on the part of secondary offender in relation to the likelihood of collateral offence happening,Whether existing interpretation of s 149 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) in conformity with interpretation of s 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Evidence,Courts and Jurisdiction,Classification as a facilitative statute,Statutes,Approach of courts in dealing with long-standing decisions that were shown to be incorrect,Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Whether s 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) requiring common intention of parties to commit the offence actually committed in a "twin crime" situation,Gang robbery,Complicity,Whether secondary offender possessing such requisite intention,Whether existing interpretation of ss 111 and 113 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) in conformity with interpretation of s 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Relationship of s 30 Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed) with s 378(1)(b)(i) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Participation,Binding force,Admissibility of evidence,Whether recourse to English common law permissible in interpreting Penal Code,Characterisation of hearsay rule considering nature of Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed),Criminal Law,Inferences made from circumstances of case,Whether out-of-court confessions of co-accused not party to proceedings falling within general prohibition against hearsay evidence,Admissibility,Whether existing interpretation of s 396 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) in conformity with interpretation of s 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Relationship between hearsay rule as expressed in Evidence Act and Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Purposive interpretation of Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed),Section 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed),Evidence Act (Cap 97, 1997 Rev Ed),Hearsay,Proof of common intention,Requisite intention,Abetment,Court judgments,Whether out-of-court confessions of co-accused not party to proceedings admissible under s 378(1)(b)(i) Criminal Procedure Code (Cap 68, 1985 Rev Ed),Confessions of accomplice not jointly charged,Statutory Interpretation,Proof of evidence,Whether s 34 Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) requiring presence at scene of criminal act to constitute participation,Meaning of "criminal act",Criminal Procedure and Sentencing,Common object
Docket NumberCriminal Appeal No 9 of 2006
Defendant CounselLau Wing Yum, Vincent Leow and Tan Wee Soon (Attorney-General's Chambers)
Plaintiff CounselRupert Seah (Rupert Seah & Co) and B Uthayachanran (B Uthayachanran & Co)
Published date01 July 2008
Date12 May 2008

12 May 2008

Judgment reserved.

V K Rajah JA:

Introduction

1 This is the appeal of Lee Chez Kee (“the appellant”) against his conviction of a charge of murder with common intention under s 302 read with s 34 of the Penal Code (Cap 224, 1985 Rev Ed) (“Penal Code”). This appeal raises difficult issues of law relating broadly to the areas of evidence and criminal common intention. While this appeal affords the opportunity to clarify these areas of law, I am fully aware that, at the end of the day, it is the result of the appeal which must remain at the forefront of the decision, given the nature of the offence and, more importantly, the irreversible punishment that will be visited upon the appellant should his appeal be dismissed. To facilitate understanding, I first set out the schematic arrangement of the contents of this judgment followed immediately by a brief background of the facts including the trial proceedings below:

INTRODUCTION……………………………………………………………......

1

BACKGROUND FACTS……………………………………………………......

4

The parties’ cases at the trial below……………………………………..........

5

The Prosecution’s case below…………………………………............

5

(1) The discovery of the deceased’s body.....................................

5

(2) Events before and after the robbery.........................................

7

(3) The appellant’s statements......................................................

10

(4) Too’s statements....................................................................

16

The appellant’s case below.....................................................................

17

The decision of the trial judge...........................................................................

20

The involvement of the appellant in the deceased’s murder......................

21

The common intention of the parties........................................................

24

Summary of the trial judge’s reasoning....................................................

26

ISSUES ON APPEAL............................................................................................

27

ADMISSIBILITY OF TOO’S STATEMENTS...................................................

28

Introduction and the proceedings below............................................................

28

The trial judge’s reasoning......................................................................

29

(1) General propositions...............................................................

29

(2) The scope of section 378(1) of the CPC.................................

30

(a) The legislative intent behind section 378(1) of the CPC..

31

(b) Contrary interpretation would lead to absurdity and
inconsistency.................................................................


37

Summary of the trial judge’s reasoning....................................................

37

The parties’ submissions in the present appeal...................................................

38

The appellant’s submissions....................................................................

38

The Prosecution’s submissions................................................................

38

Analysis and discussion....................................................................................

39

The hearsay rule under the EA................................................................

40

(1) Conceptual basis....................................................................

40

(2) The prevailing judicial approaches...........................................

42

(a) Reference to the hearsay rule without regard to the EA..

42

(b) Implicit reference to the hearsay rule in the EA...............

43

(3) Problems with the existing judicial views and the way forward..

45

The hearsay rule under the CPC.............................................................

45

The scope of section 378(1)(b)(i) of the CPC.........................................

46

(1) Preliminary observations.........................................................

46

(2) Are the provisions in the UK Bill the exact equivalent of the
CPC amendments in 1976?.....................................................


48

(a) Amendments by the Select Committee showing
difference between the CPC Bill and the UK Bill............


49

(b) Absence of provision in the UK Bill relating to co-
accused’s confession in the CPC Bill.............................


52

(3) The legislative intent behind section 378(1)(b)(i) of the CPC....

56

(a) Relevant principles of intepretation.................................

56

(b) The rules of law governing the admissibility of
confessions...................................................................


57

(c) Section 378(1) of the CPC subject to provisions on
confessions in the EA....................................................


58

Does this interpretation of section 378(1)(b)(i) of the CPC lead to absurdity and inconsistency?...................................................................


60

Does section 378(1)(b)(i) of the CPC apply to admit Too’s statements in the present case?....................................................................................


61

(1) Section 30 of the EA..............................................................

62

(2) The rationale behind section 30 of the EA................................

64

(3) Can the rationale behind section 30 of the EA be extended to
cover Too’s statements?.........................................................


67

Conclusion in relation to the admissibility of Too’s statements............................

68

INTERPRETATION OF SECTION 34 OF THE PENAL CODE......................

69

Introduction and preliminary observations.........................................................

69

Background on the Indian Penal Code..............................................................

73

The enactment of the Indian Penal Code.................................................

73

The interpretation of the Indian Penal Code.............................................

75

The correct interpretation of section 34 of the Penal Code................................

77

Typical requirements..............................................................................

77

Criminal act............................................................................................

77

Participation...........................................................................................

78

(1) The need for presence?...........................................................

79

(a) The Singapore courts’ present requirement....................

80

(b) Restatement of the requirement.....................................

82

(2) Participation in “twin crime” situations......................................

84

(a) The Singapore courts’ present requirement....................

84

(b) Restatement of the requirement.....................................

88

Proving the common intention.................................................................

88

(1) The Singapore courts’ present requirement..............................

88

(2) Restatement of the requirement...............................................

89

Common intention in “twin crime” situations............................................

90

(1) The Singapore courts’ present requirement..............................

90

(a) Intention to commit the offence committed.....................

91

(b) Common intention to commit the primary offence...........

93

(c) Other decisions.............................................................

95

(2) Restatement of the requirement...............................................

97

(a) The argument for a narrower reading of section 34 of
the Penal Code............................................................


97

(b) The approach in other jurisdictions................................

101

(c) Analysis: The historical underpinnings of section 34 of
the Penal Code.............................................................


103

(d) Analysis: The doctrine of common purpose and section
34 of the Penal Code....................................................


108

(d) The relevance of sections 35 and 38 of the Penal Code.

118

(e) Analysis: Abetment provisions under sections 111 and
113 of the Penal Code..................................................


120

In furtherance of the common intention....................................................

122

(1) The Singapore courts’ present requirement..............................

124

(a) Subjective knowledge...................................................

125

(b) Objective foreseeability.................................................

126

(c) Strict liability plus intention of actual doer to further
common intention..........................................................


128

(d) Strict liability per se.......................................................

128

(2) Restatement of the requirement...............................................

130

(a) Requirement of English common law..............................

131

(b) Conformity with the abetment provisions of the Penal
Code............................................................................


131

(c) Conformity with the common object provision in section
149 of the Penal Code..................................................


133

(d) Subjective knowledge approach consistent with other
jurisdictions and with universal principles.......................

...

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